OverviewThe playwright and critic John Oxenford (1812-77) had an acute aptitude for languages. Although he translated both Molière and Calderón into English, he specialised in German translations and set high standards, not least with his rendering of several works by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Among the greatest literary figures of his day, Goethe combined considerable achievements as a poet, novelist and playwright with his diverse interests in natural science and politics. This two-volume translation of his autobiography first appeared in 1848-9. In Volume 1, Goethe tells the story of his life from the day he was born until the publication of The Sorrows of Young Werther, which attained cult status almost immediately after it was released in 1774. As the protagonist of his own story, Goethe reflects here on how he himself came of age.